Anyone boating on the bay this summer has noticed an unsettling trend, the trophy homes along the shoreline and at the top of the bluff, with their outsize footprints and suburban style landscaping, are starting to change the character of the Door County shoreline. Our scenic shoreline that was green with cedars and dotted with birch is now cut and slotted by landscaped lawns and large multistory homes that have no visible connection to the natural beauty of Door County or to its local architecture. These homes have a modern suburban aesthetic and look like typical new construction in the suburbs of Chicago or Milwaukee.
In the shoreline areas that are administered by the County there is a shoreland zoning regulation that was enacted to preserve a 30-foot wide buffer of natural trees and vegetation starting at the high water mark; but even this regulation is being ignored. Owners are removing the trees in the 30-foot buffer, cutting the lower and middle hanging branches of the remaining trees, removing the low vegetation, and replacing the trees and vegetation with lawn or mulch that extends to the high water mark. In the village areas, where there are no regulations that preserve trees and vegetation, the new lawns go right up the high water mark and there is hardly a cedar or birch left to block the view of the bay. The ongoing transformation of our scenic shoreline by a suburban aesthetic is obvious to residents boating on the bay and it’s becoming more and more apparent to people who are first-time visitors to Door County.
We must protect the natural beauty of the Door County shoreline with common sense zoning laws and regulations. In county areas where we have regulations they need to be enforced. In village areas where there are no regulations we need to enact them. We should also enact some type of remediation for properties where the natural shoreline has already been destroyed. It’s also conceivable that the size of homes could be regulated.
The destruction of our shoreline continues apace with every undeveloped shoreline lot that is sold and with every teardown permit that is granted. Please join me by talking to your local county and town officials, appearing at village plan commission meetings, and working to get common sense zoning enacted that will preserve our beautiful scenic shoreline.
Egg Harbor, Wis.